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Assembly of First Nations National Chief Cindy Woodhouse, December 7, 2023. CPAC screen grab

Updated: New National Chief elected

By Randy Thoms Dec 7, 2023 | 1:08 PM

The Assembly of First Nations has a new National Chief.

Manitoba Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse has been named to the Assembly’s top position.

It happened after Saskatchewan’s David Pratt, the other remaining candidate, conceded before a seventh round of voting was sto take place on Thursday.

Both candidates had failed to reach the minimum 60 per cent support from the 460 Chiefs that cast ballots in six previous rounds on Wednesday.

Woodhouse says the two sat down together at the conclusion of voting last night.

“David and I had a long discussion last night. We had a long discussion this morning, and of course (with Interim) National Chief Joanna Bernard, and we came together in a good way because we have to work for you. This isn’t about us,” said Woodhouse in her acceptance speech to the Chiefs attending the meeting in Ottawa.

Woodhouse says there are many issues confronting First Nations, and her work as National Chief begins immediately.

“I will be on the phone this afternoon because our people need housing, and our people need economic development. We need policing and justice for our communities so that we have safe and safe communities because we’re dealing with a lot of a drug epidemic,” notes Woodhouse.

She also spoke of the importance of Canada working together with First Nations.

“To Canada and to Canadians, we need your support. You have to work with First Nations people in a good way. We are here in a good way. I’ve been raised like that from my father and the teachings of my mother that we have to work with all people. But at the same time, there’s a point where if you don’t listen to our people and you don’t listen to our chiefs, and you don’t answer them, then there are problems.”

Woodhouse replaces RoseAnne Archibald, who was removed from office in June over allegations of mistreatment of staff.

She acknowledged Archibald for breaking glass ceilings when she became the first woman to hold the position of National Chief.

Woodhouse plans to sit down with AFN staff as soon as possible.

“Our first meeting is we work for the Chiefs first and foremost, and we work for our First Nations people, and we get them their results every time that they call. I know that you have, but we need to make sure that we have space within the Assembly of First Nations so that when they come to Ottawa, that office is your office. That is your office. That’s not my office. That’s your office.”

Woodhouse comes from the community of Pinaymootang First Nation, located along Lake Winnipeg, about 300 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

Her Great-great-great grandfather was one of the signatories to Treaty 2, signed with the Crown in August 1871.